5 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Credit Score

(Submitted by Chris Smalley, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Planning on buying a car, house or even starting your own business? One of the major factors that help the lender determine your loan ability and interest rate is your credit score. If you can get your FICO score above 700, you have a lot better chance of obtaining a loan at a competitive rate which in turn translates into a smaller monthly payment leaving you with more cash flow for other expenses. Here is an article on 5 things you can do to improve your credit score. www.pnc.com

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Credit scores. We all have one. Well, technically we all have at least three – one from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. And most of us know a few things about credit scores like the fact that they’re important, or that you can’t apply for a loan or credit card without one.

You might be wondering, what IS a credit score?

Good question.

One of the most common credit scores is known in financial circles as a FICO® score. It is a three digit number that provides lenders and other financial institutions with a summary of your credit history. According to the FICO blog, the average credit score in the United States as of April 2016 was 699. The algorithm for determining each individual’s credit score is a closely held secret, but most financial professionals agree that it’s a mix of the following factors:
•The length of time you’ve been using credit
•How much debt you have compared to your available credit
•If you’re reliable when it comes to making payments on time
•That you use a mix of different types of credit instruments (i.e. loans, credit cards, mortgages)
•How often you’re applying to open new lines of credit

If you’re wondering why the range of your credit score matters, it all comes down to this: Your credit score determines how much interest you’ll pay and how much money you can borrow. It also determines whether or not you’ll be on the hook for extra security deposits when renting a home or setting up your utilities.

The better your credit score, the more likely your interest rate will be lower, your borrowing limit higher, and the less chance you’ll have to dish out extra funds when setting up your electric bill or cellphone.

The great news about credit scores is that these numbers aren’t permanent or static. They CAN change and you have the power to increase your credit score by following a few simple rules.

5 HABITS THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Always pay your bills on time. Every time.

One of the most important things you can do to improve credit or maintain an excellent credit score is to make sure that you always pay your bills on time. Many of us like to pay more than the minimum balance on our credit cards or loans, and that’s a good and smart thing to do. But if you ever find yourself in a bit of a financial bind, make sure you can make at least the minimum payment on time to keep your credit score from taking a significant hit.

Be mindful of the reason you’re applying for new credit.

If you’re on the hunt for a new car, home, or personal loan, make sure you do your loan shopping before you apply for new lines of credit. Recent credit inquiries can reduce your score so plan for when you apply for a new line of credit or an increase in your existing line of credit. It is worth mentioning that when you apply for any credit, closed end installment loans, or open end credit lines, the lender makes an inquiry with the credit bureaus. An inquiry or two won’t significantly impact your credit score, but several inquiries over a short period of time might lower it a few points.

Never max out your credit cards.

A significant part of your credit score is calculated by examining your debt to credit limit ratio, or how much debt you’re carrying compared to the amount of available credit you have. If you have $100 in credit and you have $99 charged to that account, that means you have 1% of your available credit open for use. Not good. A good rule is to tie up no more than 30% of your total credit limit.

Keep your oldest account open and in good standing.

Want to know one of the biggest mistakes you can make after paying down your debt? Closing your oldest account. Did you know that one of the most important parts of calculating your credit score is the length of your credit history? If you close your oldest accounts, your credit history is instantly shortened. It’s okay to close accounts, but make sure you keep your oldest account open.

Monitor your credit report and your credit score.

Part of improving or maintaining your credit score means keeping an eye on your credit report and your credit score. You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s a good idea to check on your credit score at least once a year or before you apply for any new car loan or mortgage.

Self Employment Checklist

(Shared by Jennifer Dunn, Program Assistant, Endeavor Center, OSU South Centers)

Imagine waking up every day and working on projects that challenge, inspire, and fulfill you.

It’s something you’ve envisioned for a long time—the dream of creating a life you love based on doing work that you can truly take ownership of.

You know that to get there, you need to be self employed. The prospect of this is both thrilling and terrifying—so much so that taking those first steps feels like an insurmountable challenge.

However, you’ve decided that you’re ready to rise to that challenge; you just need a road map. We’ve created a free checklist to help you navigate through the process of self employment.

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Should You Build a Mobile App or a Website for Your Startup?

(Shared by Jennifer Dunn, Program Assistant, Endeavor Center, OSU South Centers)

by Slava Bushtruk

Website, web app, or a mobile app—what would be the right “form” for your business idea?

Since the release of the very first iPhone, everyone has been treating the mobile-first business model as the new gold rush. Some, on the contrary, say that the modern user is already experiencing app fatigue and that people tend to use just three apps at most, so competing for desktop attention still remains easier.

As a new business owner, you may be overwhelmed by the choice. Will your product serve better as a mobile app (which offers a better experience on mobile, yet needs to be installed and can be deleted on a whim), or a web app (immediately accessible at any time, yet less simple to navigate from a handheld gadget)?

Some high profile businesses have heavily invested in their “mobile-first” experience (Uber, Instagram, Zomato Order), while others (Airbnb, JIRA, InVision) deliberately chose to stick with the web app version.

In the course of this post, we’ll specifically talk about the cases when you should build a mobile app—a product that is specifically designed to run on smartphone, tablets, and wearables and requires installation; or a web app—a client-server software application that runs in the browser (both desktop and mobile).

We’ll look into the reasoning behind the decision between these two options, and guide you toward the optimal choice for your product idea through a series of questions.

1. What is your product goal?

You are about to launch a new offering. Of course, you have specific business goals in mind, apart from merely making profits and changing the world.

To clarify your goals and next steps, you’ll want to validate your idea, and research your target market and their behavior as it relates to your specific product idea and in terms of the way they consume information online.

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How to Write a Mission Statement in 5 Easy Steps

(Shared by Jennifer Dunn, Program Assistant, Endeavor Center, OSU South Centers)

Bplans.com
by Tim Berry

I’ve had a 30-year love-hate relationship with mission statements. I’ve read thousands. I love it when a mission statement defines a business so well that it feels like strategy—which does happen—and I hate it when a mission statement is generic, stale, and completely useless. Which also happens, but not nearly as often.

What is a mission statement?

A good mission statement is useful tool for well-run business. It’s the “why” of business strategy.

A mission statement define a company’s goals in three important ways:
It defines what the company does for its customers
It defines what the company does for its employees
It defines what the company does for its owners
Some of the best mission statements also extend themselves to include fourth and fifth dimensions: what the company does for its community, and for the world.

Developing your company’s first mission statement, or writing a new or revised one, is your opportunity to define the company’s goals, ethics, culture, and norms for decision-making. The daily routine of business gets in the way sometimes, and a quick refresh with the mission statement helps a person take a step back and remember what’s most important: the organization has a purpose.

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4 Ways to work smarter, not harder

(Submitted by Ryan Mapes, Manager, Endeavor Center and Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Updated July 22, 2017
Published on February 19, 2014
By Gillian Davis
Entrepreneur Handbook

You’re contemplating taking the dive and setting up your own business, or perhaps you have already. It’s no more 9 to 5, you’re setting your own timelines, you are your own performance review. Your days now vary from being highly productive to highly disruptive. If you’re like me, the thought of doing anything non-work related between 9 to 5 makes you anxious, yet you then end up working all day and throughout the weekend. I’ve come to realize that not only is this ridiculous, it’s also unsustainable!

So what’s the key to settling into the lifestyle of an entrepreneur? Here are some tips I’ve used to help me.

1. Create a project plan

To get somewhere, you have to know where you are going. Your mind is probably running a mile a minute, and you have to lay out a plan to make sure how, and when, you can make those dreams possible.

As a business owner, you should be pretty clear as to what you are going to offer and to whom. You must be very clear on your vision, especially in year one, as to what the product offering is, and an in-depth insight into who your ideal customers are. What do you need to accomplish to get there? Laying out a 12 month, top-level plan will help you see what your year looks like (is it realistic?), the lead time needed for projects, and will allow you to figure out what your priorities are i.e.,. when you need to start planning trips, conferences, vacations, etc. Being clear on your vision and why you’re taking this leap will be the light at the end of the tunnel when days are a bit dark.

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